Wednesday, September 26, 2012Author: Jonathan Herrmann
(Last modified: 2012-09-26 14:15:50)
Lenoir City officially renamed its pool Saturday, cutting the ribbon on the Claire Donahue Aquatic Center.
"This is a very special day," Lenoir City Mayor Tony Aikens said. "Today we would like to recognize a person who has grown up in Lenoir City, followed her dreams and never lost her desire or determination to reach her goals."
Aikens opened the ribbon-cutting ceremony by giving a brief background on the pool, which opened May 6, 2007, and praising Donahue for her accomplishments and her impact on Lenoir City outside of the pool.
"We certainly appreciate you very much," Aikens told the swimmer. "You're certainly a role model for our students. We appreciate you and love you and wish you the best in the future."
Steve Harrelson, director of Lenoir City Parks and Recreation, gave those in attendance a brief overview of Donahue's swimming history, including her two gold medals at the 2011 Pan American Games, and recognized Donahue's parents, Chris and Connie, before handing the stage over to the Olympian.
"When the pool was starting to be built and we heard that they were actually going to have a pool in Lenoir City, I was so excited," she said. "There were multiple times I came out and kind of watched the progress of it. When they actually built the pool, I was so excited."
Donahue spent her high school years traveling to Maryville to train as a member of the Lenoir City swim team. She said having the pool in Lenoir City was exciting because it allowed the sport to grow, which is something she cares a great deal about.
"I feel so blessed, not only to have a pool in Lenoir City, but a pool named after me," Donahue said. "Swimming has been so important to me and so involved in my life. To have something like that, something in the swimming area be named after me, is huge."
Donahue finished by thanking Lenoir City for its support throughout the Olympics and moving forward.
"It really means a lot to me," she said. "I've heard stories about other people, other Olympians and their towns, but I really feel like you all have treated me special. I really do appreciate all that you've done for me."
Following the ribbon cutting, Donahue spoke with several community members and elected officials from Lenoir City who were gathered at the pool.
"I find it only fitting to honor Claire today by renaming our city pool for Lenoir City's own Olympic gold medalist," Aikens said.
Donahue is scheduled to compete Dec. 12-16 at the FINA World Swimming Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.
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